Living in a small Midwest market I wonder sometimes how local businesses can survive when faced with the “big box” stores as well as a difficult economy. The only way I know is when a local businesses market uniqueness. They must decide what makes their local business stand out from all the outbound marketing efforts that these big box stores can unleash against them.
I know that the employees of the big box stores live, for the most part, locally. I also know that the salaries paid these employees benefit the local tax base, However, the profits from these stores and the impact of their owners, don’t have an impact on the local market like it does through the “mom and pops” of a community.
So, how can the local businesses survive? How can they stand the onslaught of the “low price leader” ads? How can they compete with the corporate behemoths that can easily out spend them and out brand them?
I think that there are three things that local businesses can do:
1. They can market their history as they work to build for the future. People like to know that companies have local roots (even new businesses operated by long time residents). Remember though that this history may get someone in the store or to use your service once or twice, but with the history you must prove yourself to be forward thinking and service oriented.
2. They must market their ability to react swiftly to issues, problems, or mistakes. One of the things that local businesses have in their favor is that they are LOCAL. All of their customer service ought to promote this uniqueness.
3. They need to get involved in local causes and support other local businesses. As local businesses work to promote this kind of local involvement, others will join them and the “circle of life” will be complete a steady flow of business.
In my opinion, local is better, as long as local is capable, talented, and unique. So, the answer to local success comes when local businesses market uniqueness!